Haridopolos on gaming: House ‘led folks on,’ Internet café reg in doubtby Dara Kam | February 8th, 2012
It’s highly unlikely that Senate President Mike Haridopolos will get the up-or-down floor vote he wanted on a sweeping gambling bill that included three high-end casinos since the House effectively killed the bill last week.
Without naming names, Haridopolos accused GOP leaders across the rotunda of playing games with the way they handled the “destination resorts” bill that sponsor Erik Fresen, R-Miami, asked to be put aside Friday because he knew it would not get voted out of its first committee.
“Given all the signals they were sending, what committees they sent it to, it was pretty obvious that they led some folks on and they weren’t really going to vote on it,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, told reporters this afternoon. “We saw that coming about a week ago.”
When asked if he was disappointed that the bill appears to be done for before the mid-point in the 60-day legislative session, Haridopolos reiterated that he wanted it to get a floor vote.
“Clearly with the decision made in the House, we’re not going to have that opportunity. But that’s why we have two chambers. I’m not offended by it. I think we all saw it coming. They chose to act quickly and just kill it from discussion. That’s their prerogative,” he said.
But Haridopolos stopped short of sticking a fork in the destination resorts bill, saying the Senate’s version would continue to move through committees even though it appears to be going nowhere in the House.
“It’s a 60-day session. We’ll have to see what happens,” he said.
And a legal opinion from the Seminole Tribe’s attorneys puts in doubt the future of another gambling issue dividing the two chambers – Internet cafés.
The House is moving forward with a proposal to ban the “casinos on the corner” now operating under Florida sweepstakes laws. But the Senate appears to favor a measure that regulate the cafés.
That would violate an agreement the state struck with the Seminoles, the tribe’s attorneys wrote in an opinion, and could put at risk the $233 million a year the Indians give the state for “exclusivity” in certain types of gambling.
Haridopolos called that a “new wrinkle” in the Internet café debate and said the Senate’s lawyers were looking into the issue.
“Clearly the House and the Senate are not on the same page…A majority of senators would agree with regulating as opposed to banning those facilities,” he said.